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Editorial - Fasten your seat belts

November 04, 1996

Editorial - Fasten your seat belts

Next Monday at 4 p.m., Edwin Hayes and Andrew Humphreys will be formally sworn in as new members of the Washington County school board. We take this opportunity to congratulate them, not only for winning their races for office, but for being willing to take on a job where the pay is inadequate ($3,500 a year) and the responsibilities immense.

The board they're joining faces some tremendous challenges, not all of which are obvious. For example, because of some bad decisions by previous boards, some schools that might have been mothballed and preserved for later use - Woodland Way, Surrey and Washington Street - were sold, meaning that when the next wave of residential development hits, school crowding and the demand for more classroom space will be an issue again.

Hayes is on track when he says that it's important that the board come to consensus on issues. Provided everyone on the board remembers that the important thing is what's best for students, rather than winning for political reasons, it shouldn't be impossible to reach a compromise all can live with.

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Humphreys' call for more employee involvement in decision-making is also welcome. Under the leadership of the last board, the school system was moving, perhaps unintentionally, into a confrontational relationship with teachers and classified employees. The budget is a reality that both staff and administrators must deal with, and a commitment to sharing some tough decisions would allow both sides to put their energies into problem-solving instead of into filing grievances and drafting responses.

Should the board be increased to seven members? We'd like to hear more arguments on this one, because we're not certain there are enough qualified candidates willing to run now. Seven members might make it easier to get committee work done, or it might make the school board more attractive as a political stepping-stone to higher office. We'll keep an open mind, but convince us, please, that this will make the school board operations more efficient and not more chaotic.

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